Roughly two-thirds of all crude contracts around the world reference Brent Crude, making it the most widely used marker of all. The word “Brent” refers to oil from four different fields in the North Sea: Brent, Forties, Oseberg, and Ekofisk. Crude from this region is light and sweet, making them ideal for the refining of diesel fuel, gasoline, and other high-demand products. The supply is waterborne and is easy to transport to distant locations.
WTI refers to oil extracted from wells in the U.S. and sent via pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma. The fact that supplies are land-locked is one of the drawbacks to West Texas crude as it’s relatively expensive to ship to certain parts of the globe. The product itself is very light and very sweet, making it ideal for gasoline refining, in particular. WTI continues to be the main benchmark for oil consumed in the United States.
This Middle Eastern crude is a useful reference for oil of a slightly lower grade than WTI or Brent. A “basket” product consisting of crude from Dubai, Oman or Abu Dhabi, it’s somewhat heavier and has higher sulfur content, putting it in the “sour” category. Dubai/Oman is the main reference for Persian Gulf oil delivered to the Asian market. Brent and Dubai are the most widely used benchmarks in the world for pricing physical crude oil.